This week we continue our 10 Questions series on Compassion’s holistic child development model with Brandy’s interview with Mike Hinckfoot, Compassion’s Leadership Development Ministry Director.

Holistic child development model chart

Compassion’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) uniquely equips hundreds of outstanding young leaders to transform their communities, their countries and their world. Mike Hinckfoot, Compassion’s Leadership Development Ministry director since 2004, recently shared with me his passion for young adults and his vision for the Leadership Development Program.

1. What is the Leadership Development Program?

The Leadership Development Program identifies and provides opportunities for outstanding Christian young men and women who are graduates of our Child Sponsorship Program. The tagline is “Educating, training, discipling servant leaders.” It’s about college students, who, when they came into Compassion’s program maybe 18 years ago, had no dreams, but now they do.

2. What does “Educating, training and discipling servant leaders” look like?

Well, the education part is pretty simple. Each LDP student enrolls in college in their home country, where they will receive a bachelor’s degree, thanks to the support of their LDP sponsor. As far as training, each LDP student takes part in a holistic curriculum based on Compassion’s leadership principles. It’s a three to four year training program. And for discipleship, we connect every LDP student with a local church, where they are actively involved in getting to know their pastor, maybe teaching Sunday school. Discipleship also comes through mentoring. Every LDP student has a mentor, someone of the same gender, hopefully in the same career path that they are to walk with them side by side. They also have an LDP specialist, kind of a guidance counselor, someone who is helping them develop in their plans for the future.

Mike with several LDP students attending the University of Guatemala

3. What is the LDP sponsor’s role in their sponsored student’s life, beyond covering the cost for their education?

The sponsor is essential to the success of the program. Our students are linked to a sponsor and our hope is that to take a sponsor from being an encourager to being a distant mentor, to being a coach for them — for now and for the future. I can say without question that I know of no other program like LDP in the world. Sponsors are touching the future by being a champion for these bright, talented students. They are, quite literally, changing the future through their sponsorship.

4. The Bible is full of verses about helping children, the orphaned and those who are alone. What do you think the Bible says about the young adults who apply for LDP?

One key passage for LDP is 1 Timothy 4:12, a verse that declares the value of young adults from God’s perspective. Paul, a mentor to Timothy, encourages him, saying, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” In other words, God is calling young adults to assume great roles of leadership. They should pursue this confidently. And the Leadership Development Program is one way the Church can see that it happens.

5. Many developing countries offer very little support for women seeking an education — and some are, in fact, hostile towards these women. What is LDP doing to help women enrolled in the program?

I’ve done a lot of research on women and education in developing countries, and the more I learn, the sicker this situation makes me. For example, we learned that young ladies enrolled in LDP in Nairobi were being harassed by young men in the computer lab. Even worse, young ladies were failing university because they would not have an affair with their professors. We do everything we can to support these young women. We are giving them a chance for an education, yes. But our support doesn’t end there. We fight for them, against injustice. We give them a voice. We give them power. We give them hope.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of Brandy’s interview with Mike.

Read all the posts in the 10 Questions series.

Brandy Campbell is a feature writer at Compassion International. When she’s not chatting with Compassion execs, Brandy writes newsletter and web stories about Compassion’s ministry to children in poverty.

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2 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Mar 24, 2008
    at 6:27 pm

    Love the 10 questions thing — mind if I steal the idea?

    Hey, I am a pastor in the North Carolina region and about once a month I do a link exchange with about 10 other blogs I’ve read and like (and would like to give a boost to).

    If you would be interested, first check out my blog at to see if you like it enough and let me know that you have linked to me or blogrolled me and I will do the same.

    email is,


    Pastor Rob

  2. Mar 25, 2008
    at 8:26 am

    Steal away. We actually borrowed the idea from the company I used to work for, and they found their inspiration in the NY Times.

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